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No biological legacy

John Bishop
John Bishop

From Washington State Magazine:

“No biological legacy.”

The phrase John Bishop uses to describe the effect of Mount St. Helens’s eruption on the main blast zone, the pumice plain, holds an understated charm. By now, everyone has heard the story of Mount St. Helens-how it blew on a Sunday morning in May 1980, after rumbling for weeks, an earthquake triggering an enormous landslide, hot gas and rock debris blasting across the landscape at 1,100 kilometers an hour, devastating 60 square kilometers and killing 60 people. But it is impossible to accept the immensity of the mountain and the eruption’s legacy, unless you are able to stand beneath the enormous crater on the pumice plain-and hear Bishop, an ecologist at Washington State University at Vancouver, talk about lupines.

No biological legacy. Trees, birds, elk, bacteria, spring flowers, humans-all simply vaporized. A whole region was completely sterilized.

Read more about lupine seeds

Grant funds preparation for invasive mussels

Stephen Bollens

Researchers at Washington State University are preparing for a Northwest invasion of the zebra mussel – a small, distinctly striped and rather tenacious freshwater mollusk that can quickly encrust underwater surfaces. The mussels have caused significant damage in other parts of the country and pose an enormous risk to the hydroelectric infrastructure, recreational facilities and unique ecological system of the Columbia River Basin.

“Once they are established in the water, they are almost impossible to eradicate,” said Stephen Bollens, director of the WSU School of the Environment and lead investigator for a $630,000 grant from the Bonneville Power Administration to ramp up preparations.

Read more about aquatic hitchikers at WSU News >>

Findings from senior thesis published in Appetite journal

“The problem is no longer food scarcity, but too much food,” said Halley Morrison, a recent WSU biology graduate and author of an interdisciplinary Honors College senior thesis that was published in the journal Appetite.

Morrison, together with Tom Power, professor and chair of the human development department, analyzed more than 200 mother-child surveys and found that a mother’s eating habits and behavior at the dinner table can influence her preschooler’s obesity risk.

Read more at WSU News and Appetite.

Epigenetic Disease Inheritance Linked to Plastics and Jet Fuel

WSU researchers have lengthened their list of environmental toxicants that can negatively affect as many as three generations of an exposed animal’s offspring.

Michael Skinner portraitWriting in the online journal PLOS ONE, scientists led by WSU molecular biologist Michael Skinner document reproductive disease and obesity in the descendants of rats exposed to various plastic compounds (including BPA). In a separate article in the journal Reproductive Toxicology, they report the first observation of cross-generation disease from a widely used hydrocarbon jet fuel mixture the military refers to as JP8.

Both studies are the first of their kind to see obesity stemming from the process of “epigenetic transgenerational inheritance.

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